Chinese blockchain project NEO has been having a bit of a tough time lately. The company’s recent Ask Me Anything (AMA), led by founders Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang, was much-welcomed by the NEO community to clarify fact from fiction and get a handle on where things are going and how the management team aims to get there. In this summary, we highlight some of the top discussion points.

How NEO Plans to Handle FUD

An issue was raised by r/user TooAlpha about NEO’s inability to quell FUD, instead offering no pushback or proof to put the company’s community at ease.

These rumours include:

  • Da Hongfei acting as a showpiece while having unofficially left the company to focus on sister project Ontology (ONT)—with which NEO has signed a memorandum of understanding—and NEO/ONT parent company OnChain, of which he’s the CEO
  • NEO staff being drawn into working for ONT
  • ONT moving into direct competition with NEO
  • NEO funds being syphoned into other (founder-profiteering) money-making ventures

In answer to the question what actions NEO plans to take to prevent such FUD suspicions taking root, Da Hongfei responded that he is actively involved with the NEO Foundation (NF) and Neo Global Development (NGD) at a management level, as well as technological decisions regarding NEO 3.0, and is dedicated to staying with NEO, working on the company’s 2020 goal.

NEO’s 2020 goal, courtesy of NEO Twitter

Save for Johnson Zhao, NEO’s International Development Director who transferred from OnChain, there’s been zero staff shifts between the NF, NGD, NEO Global Council (NGC), and ONT or OnChain. Da Hongfei clarified that NEO’s dev team is comprised of NGD and community devs, while ONT’s dev team consists of OnChain employees, adding that the two teams are independent in all respects, including separate offices and funding.

There’s a fundamental difference between NEO and ONT that makes direct competition out of the question, namely NEO being a fully-fledged smart contracts platform and ONT an identity- and data exchange-focused blockchain network.

NEO is working on financial transparency, aiming to release the company’s financial status in Q3 2018 and financial reports for NF, NGD, and NGC by Q4 2018.

How NEO Aims to Improve Marketing Strategies

Strong criticism against NEO’s lack of marketing efforts came to the forefront, accusing the team of “minimal outreach” and “shallow communication” by an “inexperienced” marketing team, leading NEO to be virtually unknown outside its own community.

Hongfei indicated that a review process of past marketing efforts and outcomes had been initiated, resulting in preliminary internal adjustments. In his response, he also invited talented marketers to apply for a position with the company.

NEO’s Apparent Lack of Team Effort in Growing the NEO Ecosystem

While NEO has all the ingredients to take it to greatness, including technology, community, and dev talent, some of the company’s supporters feel that NEO itself is not as committed to the brand as are the people and projects that stand in support of the company.

Hongfei conceded to an apparent imbalance in the output by a company’s in-house team versus efforts by its broader community. While this is beneficial up to a certain point, allowing for much community dev contribution, he admitted that at this stage in the blockchain landscape, NEO requires greater in-house input working on its core protocol. This, he indicated, has led to the establishment of NGD, which is “rapidly growing” and working at solving this very problem.

NEO’s Goals for 2020NEO 3.0, and Consensus Node Decentralization Tie-Ins

NEO has set its aims to become the world’s #1 blockchain by 2020. User CryptoAndPax asked whether NEO 3.0 – a new version of NEO catering to enterprise-level scaling – will help or hinder this ambition, and how decentralization of consensus nodes which was interpreted by the community to have been initially scheduled for completion in 2017, yet only one node has been decentralized to date—has been affected by the development of NEO 3.0.

NEO co-founder Erik Zhang explained that NEO’s 2020 goal is wholly dependent on the platform being able to accommodate large-scale commercial applications, ensuring stability, extensive data storage, and optimal transactions per second (TPS). NEO 3.0, he said, works toward the implementation of these goals. NeoFS, meanwhile, a distributed storage contract that supports distributed storage based on distributed hash table (DHT) technology, will allow the NEO platform to massively increase data storage capabilities.

Zhang further highlighted that NEO 3.0 wouldn’t slow developers from building on NEO, as an iterative dev model, and compatible features will be developed and first merged into 2.0.

Hongfei added that the 2020 goal would only be achieved provided it’s a dev-friendly platform, which is why NEO 3.0 is geared at optimizing the technology’s core architecture. Hence, NEO 3.0 will speed up, not slow down, NEO development.

Regarding NEO’s decentralization status, Zhang said that this process would be unaffected by 3.0. Hongfei clarified that there had never been a formal statement promising a 2017 delivery date. He noted that they estimated the process would take a few years, adding that at current, consensus nodes are being run on a testnet, and the NF will be able to vote them into mainnet after being in operation for a period of 3-6 months.


NEO has, alongside all other cryptos, seen a price drop over the last few months. Coupled with community unhappiness about factors such as those listed in this article, it’s evident that there is plenty of work still to be done, both as one of the world’s leading cryptocurrencies, as well as in light of their 2020 goal.

However, the NEO team seems to be aware of what their issues are, and they’re committed to taking the steps needed to rectify these problems. Together with strong support from their community who (characteristic of the blockchain industry) are outspoken about company direction and operations, they are still in the race to become the world’s leading crypto. Their vision with NEO 3.0 seems to cement that fact, since they understand that to lead the pack, they have to offer best-in-market solutions to small-scale and enterprise developers alike.

Read the in-depth scoop on NEO’s 2018 AMA here. You can also read our summary of NEO’s July 2018 Global Development Report.